Volunteers throughout Riverside County are needed to assist with a survey of homeless residents that will help determine the need for services and guide decisions about how to use available resources.

The County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) will host volunteer orientation meetings in San Jacinto and Lake Elsinore for those interested in participating in the 2013 biennial survey.

The countywide count will be done between 5 and 9 a.m. Jan. 23. The survey is a one-day, street-based and shelter-based effort to identify how many people in the county are homeless on a given day.

Results of the 2013 count and survey will provide benchmark numbers. Those numbers establish a basis for developing local community and countywide strategies to help alleviate homelessness and measure the effectiveness of programs currently serving homeless individuals and families.

During Riverside County’s last survey in 2011, volunteers, homeless advocates, providers and homeless individuals counted 4,321 people countywide. This included 3,208 people found living in abandoned buildings, on the street, at freeway over/underpasses, in cars, RVs, encampments and other areas. Another 1,113 were living in shelters. The total number was a 28 percent increase from the previous count in 2009.

People interested in volunteering can find more information and register for one of the 90-minute orientation meetings at: http://www.riversidehomelesscounts.com.

At the orientation, volunteers will learn how to conduct a brief survey of every person they count, what to do if a person is uncooperative and learn other safety and logistical information. Volunteers will be paired in teams and given maps of areas they will be assigned to for the count. The orientation meeting schedule is: San Jacinto, 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 14, San Jacinto Community Center, 625 S. Pico Ave.; Lake Elsinore: 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 21, from Ortega High School Conference Center, 520 Chaney St.

Prospective volunteers also may contact Elizabeth Calanche, DPSS Homeless Programs Unit, at (951) 358-5640 or email: [email protected]; or Don Smith, Institute for Urban Initiatives, at (909) 373-2754 or email: [email protected].